Government Seeks Input on Reboot of Nation's Strategic Computing Objectives

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When technology progresses quickly, the strategies behind it may need to as well.

America’s National Strategic Computing Initiative’s Strategic Plan was produced through public and private collaboration and instituted in 2016, setting forth five objectives aiming to boost the nation’s leadership in advanced and high-performance computing. Though it’s only been three years, rapid improvements and accelerations in technology are driving those behind the plan to question whether it’s time to update those objectives—and if so, how?

To address the question, the National Science Foundation, more specifically its Networking and Information Technology Research and Development’s National Coordination Office, released a request for information Tuesday seeking public input on how to best ensure America’s continued leadership in strategic computing.

“Since the launch of NSCI, there have been significant near- and long-term advances that support the efforts towards exascale computing. There have also been changes in the technology landscape such as the availability of resources and usage models, the nature and requirements of applications, and the means and methods of implementation.”

“As a result, it is appropriate to reexamine, as a nation, the objectives of SC,” the RFI said.

NSF’s NITRD NCO launched the RFI together with the National Science and Technology Council’s Fast-Track Action Committee on Strategic Computing. According to the document, the administration chartered the FTAC to revamp the nation’s goals and approaches to advanced computing research and development, and the committee will consider the RFI feedback together with other members of the science community.

FTAC members will provide a report on the findings once the process is complete.

Currently, the five strategic computing objectives focus on accelerating exascale computing systems and establishing strong paths and an ecosystem for high performance computing. They also direct the community to increase technology coherence between “the base used for modeling and simulation and that used for data analytic computing.” Further, they push for the establishment of strong private-public partnerships to ensure computing advances are adequately shared between the government and other sectors.

The government has made strides across some of these intentions. The Energy Department, for example, announced plans to deliver the world’s fastest exascale supercomputer by 2021.

But NSF said it welcomes comments about whether it should add, remove or modify any of the existing objectives, as well as insights on how the government implemented them in the past and plans to in the future.

Through seven questions, the RFI asks for respondents to elaborate on a variety of topics including: The emerging issues and opportunities vital to America’s leadership in the space and the best mechanisms to confront them; strong models for computing partnerships between the government and other entities; how to best establish and invigorate a strong computing workforce while reducing barriers around learning; to identify national use cases that will “drive new computing paradigms,” and how the community can better prioritize federally funded research and development on strategic computing.

The deadline for comments is set for Aug. 23.